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A better life through golf

PGA master professional tells his golf philosophy


Golf fans were stunned this week by young Northern Irish golfer Rory Mcllroy when he won the U.S. Open title by eight strokes on Sunday for his first win in a major.

The stunning victory of the 22-year-old is welcome news for golf lovers who have long been anticipating a new star, said PGA professional Jay Kyungwoo Na.

“Our golf has been lacking star players after Tiger Woods lost his fame, but I think now we’ve found one,” he said in an interview with the Korea Herald.

Many will not be familiar with his name, but Na is no stranger to the world of golf. Na is, in fact, Asia’s first certified PGA master professional, the highest qualification in the PGA, and recognized as one of the leading golf coaches here.

After speaking with him for five minutes, one might feel as if one were listening to a live commentary. This is partly because he has been broadcasting LPGA tour tournaments for years here.

Asked about the 2011 U.S Open, Na simply said: “I enjoyed watching it.”

“Before being a PGA master professional, I’m also a golf fan. And I really enjoyed watching the tournament from start to finish,” he added. 
PGA master professional Jay Kyungwoo Na (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
PGA master professional Jay Kyungwoo Na (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Na, 43, first started playing golf in 1992 when he moved to the United States after completing his university studies here.

“I didn’t really have any plan when I first moved to the States. Then, I started golf, and initially got into it.”

Na, then 24-year-old, thought he was too old to become a professional golfer, but thought he could become a golf instructor. So he took up courses at a golf academy in Orlando.

“After graduating from the academy, I wanted to study more and get more professional training. I went for the PGA training program, hoping to become a PGA member, so that I could be a better qualified instructor,” Na said.

But he did not expect becoming a member of the PGA to be just as difficult as becoming a PGA professional golfer.

“Just to enroll in the PGA program, I had to work full-time at golf courses for more than six months, and had to pass the playing abilities test,” he said.

In order to become a PGA member, one must successfully complete four levels of courses, and three years of training. And during the training, trainees not only learn how to play and teach the game but also a wide range of requisite skills, such as repairing golf clubs so, for instance, when your iron flies off, rest assured the PGA pro can fix it, according to the PGA organization.

“I even learned how to write a formal letter to club members,” said Na, noting that it took him more than six years to complete the PGA program.

“It was especially hard for me, because I had never studied English before. People often ask me how many hours I played in the field to become a PGA member, but in fact, I spent most of the time sitting at my desk studying,” he added.

With all the hard work and great determination, he finally became a fully qualified PGA professional in 2005. And he continued studying to earn a PGA Master Professional status, the highest qualification in PGA, which is regarded as a master’s degree in golf.

“The golf industry is constantly evolving, and our profession needs to evolve with it,” said Na, admitting, however, he thinks Korea still lacks a professional training program for golf instructors.

“Now, Korea has many world-class golfers, but not many well-known golf coaches. I think it’s because we don’t have proper training programs here,” Na said.

After returning to Korea in 2009, Na set up his own golf academy, Jayna Golf (www.jaynagolf.com), aiming to provide more highly qualified teaching programs.

“I’m also hoping to set up a training program in KPGA and KLPGA. I’d like to deliver a system that recruits, trains, supports and retains excellent golf coaches here,” he said.

“My vision for the future of golf coaching is that it will ultimately help to grow the game of golf and to make a better life through the golf,” he added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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